Moving companies provide differing pictures on Idaho’s popularity: Number 1… or Number 30?


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Two moving companies provided two different pictures of moving patterns in the US.

One says Idaho saw the highest percentage of “in-bound migration” (a wonky way to say ‘people moving here.’) Another says Idaho ranks 30th in migration growth – a big drop in the rankings from last year.

So what gives?

United v. U-Haul

United Van Lines and U-Haul both came out with annual rankings showing where folks were moving all their Earthly possessions using the two companies’ trucks.

United grabbed the headlines with a news release heralding Idaho’s status: We’re Number One.

“According to the study, which tracks the company’s exclusive data for customers’ 2020 state-to-state migration patterns, Idaho was the state with the highest percentage of inbound migration (70%) among states experiencing more than 250 moves* with United Van Lines for the second consecutive year,” the company said.

But there’s an asterisk there. When you read the fine print – Idaho’s actually number two behind Vermont. But the Green Mountain State loses the crown because it had fewer than 250 families move in, says United.

U-Haul looked at a total of 2 million truck rentals across the country and found that Tennessee came in first for folks moving into the state, followed by Texas. Idaho is a long way down the list, coming in at number 30, down from last year’s 11th place ranking.

We’re Number… Thirty?

Digging deeper

So why the vastly different rankings?

We looked at the data made available by the two companies. And though they both provide insight into folks moving around, they use very different types of moves – and vastly different data pool sizes.

United’s data track folks who hired movers to haul their stuff to a new place. U-Haul’s data shows people who rented their own truck.

The United data pool is also much smaller – a total of just more than 158,000 total moves across the entire country. U-Haul says its data is comprised of “more than 2 million” truck rentals each year.

For Idaho, United says 758 trucks arrived win the state, while 323 trucks left – which means a net 435 new families moved to the state during the calendar year, or an average of about 36 per month.

U-Haul did not provide a state-by-state breakdown of the data, but its data pool is more than 12 times as large overall.

There’s one more key factor: U-Haul based its numbers on net gain of trucks crossing its borders, while United ranked on percentage of net gain. UHaul: raw numbers. United: ratio.

With United’s state-by-state data, we can calculate the net number of moves for each state by subtracting trucks leaving from trucks arriving. If we then rerank the states in the same method U-Haul used, Florida comes out on top with 2,354 net trucks. Idaho comes in at number 11 on the list with those 435 new families.

Don Day - BoiseDev Editor & Founder
Don Day - BoiseDev Editor & Founder
Don is the founder and publisher of BoiseDev. He is a National Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Stanford University John S. Knight Fellow. Contact him at [email protected].

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